Leadership Lessons from Confucius: never rush to judgment

Confucius said: “A leader doesn’t promote someone simply because of what they say, nor does a leader dismiss what is said because of the person who said it.”

Never rush to judgment. Just because someone catches your attention with something that they say should not mean that you automatically gain confidence in them. Watch very closely how they follow up their words with their actions before you make any decisions on their future career path. Far too many people rise through the ranks based on their ability to look good in front of management rather than their execution skills.

Just because you dislike someone or they have been wrong in the past, do not discount what they have to say either. Chances are that they will look at a problem from a different perspective and provide you with unexpected insights. Again, be sure to monitor whether they match their words with deeds. An open mind can only take you so far.

This article features a translation of Chapter 23 of Book 15 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 15 here.

(1) Confucius was always ready to listen to what anyone, no matter what their social background was, had to say as long as it was meaningful. However, he soon lost patience with smooth talkers who offered no substance behind their words.

(2) See 14.4 for a passage with a similar theme: “The virtuous have a lot to teach others; but people who have a lot to teach others aren’t necessarily virtuous. The good are always brave; but the brave aren’t necessarily good.”

I took this image at the Mencius Cemetery in Qufu.

I live in Taiwan and am interested in exploring what ancient Chinese philosophy can tell us about technology and the rise of modern China.